It was on Observe Hack Make (a one week hacking camp) in 2013, that I got informed about IBM Extreme Blue. Being part of the volunteering crew, I met Manfred Overmeen (the crew team lead). Although it wasn’t untill the end of the week, that he told me about the Extreme Blue program he is involved in. After our talk, I did some research on Extreme Blue. Seeing the experiences of other students, I got the vibe and was thrilled to get in. However I waited two years to get in, since only recent graduates are accepted.
Fast forward to 2015, I graduated from the University of Westminster Business School and Nyenrode New Business School. Hence, I applied and got accepted to the IBM Extreme Blue internship and I couldn’t be happier. Because the time frame is only three months, it is truly a pressure cooker. It is remarkable to see what we are able to achieve in this period. In the team, my role is to bridge the gap between the technical and business sides. This improves communication and hence we can be lean, mean and agile. There are times when we need to relax and place our focus on something else, thus we table Foosball. Probably the best ROI for IBM, since after playing we are very focused on the work at hand.
The IBM Extreme Blue internship is a grand opportunity and it is not ‘just another internship’, it is about personal development and the ability to achieve our wildest dreams.
Yann van Ewijk
Just in the middle of the summer IBM Netherlands hosted the Best Student Recognition Event 2015 in Amsterdam. 64 students from 44 institutions from 20 countries and 26 nationalities spent 3 creative days of workshops and challenges in order to come up with a solution for the world problem of Food Waste.
The participants had a unique opportunity to work in an international and diverse environment, learn about IBM’s business and research, as well as network and work with top IBM experts. The IBM Center for Advanced Studies Benelux created a pleasant environment for students with all different backgrounds such as computer science, engineering and business management.
The event had it all. The first day started with presentations about the IBM strategy, business and research and an introduction to the theme of this year’s event: Food Waste. The next day started by introducing the IBM Design Thinking in the form of a mini challenge. The students had to tackle the marshmallow challenge in order to get to know and integrate with each other and cooperate to solve a common problem. Moreover, they participated in other mini challenges as well, which helped build a base for the main challenge of the event.
The participants were divided into teams of 6 and were asked to come up with a technology and business solution for food waste and make use of concepts such as the Internet of Things or Agile development. Finally they had to pitch their ideas on the third day of the event in the form of the “Dragon’s Den” situation in just 4 minutes.
The jury consisted of Toine Timmermans from Wageningen University, Dr. Alessandro Bozzon from TU Delft and Robert-Jan Sips, research lead in the IBM Center for Advanced Studies. After following carefully all the pitches, the jury selected the most impressive one; the FoodPrint. This solution is an ecosystem that would empower the individual, while simultaneously reduce their food wastage footprint. As one of the members of the winning team said: “It would be rolled out in phases, beginning with smart-fridges where nudges would be utilized to influence proactive action against food wastage. This would revolve around big data stored in the cloud, and also behavioral data being generated via personal smart devices. This whole concept was a result of the Internet of Things, and the future towards which we are moving.”
The event ended with a speech from Harry van Dorenmalen, Chairman of IBM Europe, thanking the students for participating, congratulating the winning team and giving important lessons for each one of us.
Starting the day with a game of table football gives insight into the working atmosphere at IBM. Peering across the table, you can see the concentration and dedication in my colleagues’ eyes. Straight faces, revealing a hint of nerves, reminding you that the only option is to win. Your pride is at stake, everyone watching is aware. A match should not be taken lightly. Trembling, sweaty hands are waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Total concentration for long periods is required to remain in control of the ball. Playing with a colleague makes table football a team effort; coordination is required for perfect play. Every clunking sound of a successful shot on goal is followed by instant satisfaction and a renewed excitement.
Those characteristics all relate to the projects and values of being an IBMer. Commitment and dedication represent the core values of IBM as an organization. Trust is placed in our fellow IBMer. Even as interns, we receive responsibility over managing potential game-changing projects, with a real client involved. Cooperation in IBM is not limited by our project, or by national boundaries. Every employee can easily get in contact with any other employee. Finally, we live by a work hard, play hard mentality.
I am a Computer Science student from Leiden University. This summer, I am one of the lucky students taking part in the IBM Extreme Blue internship in Amsterdam.
I feel proud being part of such an innovative, international and cooperative community. I am proud to be an IBMer.
Indeed, being part of the movement through which technology is changing the world was what I expected from working at IBM. Nonetheless, I was hired to solve a specific problem: a challenge by a client that I would be assigned to. With that in mind, I knew I would probably not be working on the next revolutionary idea and that there would be some limitations and constrains regarding what I could do.
That’s where I was wrong! I feel like, as a part of Extreme Blue at IBM, I am indeed working on the next big thing. Me and my other three team mates (one industrial designer and two computer scientists) have no boundaries and are constantly encouraged to challenge the status quo and ask questions. And we are not the only ones: every other team at the Center for Advanced Studies seems to be developing something with the potential of becoming disruptive and changing the way we currently do things. This innovation spirit creates a very open, dynamic and fun environment, where we constantly exchange ideas and suggestions. The experience has been amusing and the learning curve steep.
I highly appreciate the opportunity and look forward to the future!
Debora Piancastelli Heiderich
IBM Extreme Blue intern